First impressions count more than you might realise. Find out how to leave your mark and make a client want to keep talking to you.
So, you made a bad first impression.
You stumbled over your words during a call or you just didn’t look as sharp for a meeting as you normally do.
“Never mind”, you tell yourself. “I can make up for it the next time that I speak to the client.”
…But that may not really be the case.
Research suggests that it takes people as little as 7 seconds to form their first impression of you – and that impression will usually stick. In fact, 24% of people are likely to stick with a service provider for more than two years if the provider made a good first impression.
But if you don’t nail it the first time, clients will talk about it. Up to 95% of customers will talk to at least one person about a bad experience that they’ve had with a brand.
So, it’s not just the client who loses interest. Anybody that they talk to forms an immediate impression of you, too. That bad first outing may ruin your chances of landing multiple customers!
New York University psychology professor James Uleman, PhD hit the nail on the head when he said:
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. In spite of the congeniality of many professional gatherings, judgments are being made and impressions formed all the time. The impression you create may affect future job opportunities, collaborations or other important matters.”
Your accounting firm has all sorts of chances to make a good first impression. Whether it be through your content or your conversations, you need to get it right the first time. That’s how you set up conversations with prospects that ultimately turn them into clients.
But how do you make sure you’re making a good connection at the first time of asking? Just follow these tips to ensure that someone’s first impression of you works in your favour.
Tip #1 – Know Your Audience (So You Can Deliver What They Want)
Let’s say you’ve got a big meeting coming up with a potential client.
How much do you know about that prospect and their business? What do you know about their pain points? What do you bring to the table that could help them solve a problem?
If you can’t come up with some answers to those questions, you will struggle in your meeting. The prospect will see that you don’t know your audience (i.e. them!) and will make a judgement based on that fact.
What about your content?
This is often the first thing that any prospect sees of you. Does your content speak to a problem that your prospects have? If it doesn’t, they’ll see it as irrelevant and may not even read it properly.
And just like that, you’ve lost your chance to make a good first impression.
The point is that knowing your audience gives you the chance to prepare for the first impression. It allows you to come up with what the prospect needs to see at the exact time they need to see it. Plus, it shows that you care about them and their problems, rather than the revenue they can bring to your business.
Tip #2 – Use Creative Designs to Stand Out
5,000 per day.
That’s how many ads that the average person sees per day, according to Yankelovich, Inc.
The number may seem a little high at first. But think about all of the mediums that allow advertising and how commonly they’re used. TV, radio, newspapers, social media sites, Google, and websites all host ads. And these are all things that your prospects use every day.
That’s why the people you’re trying to talk to get bombarded with messages from other people trying to talk to them.
If your ad doesn’t stand out in some way, it’s not going to grab their attention. They’ll see you and dismiss you as yet another firm that isn’t worth their time.
To stand out, you need to get creative with the messages that you’re sending out.
And you need to do more than stamp your logo onto a piece of copy. Use colours, phrasing, strange formatting, and powerful graphics to grab attention. The goal here is to draw eyes to your ad so that you can wow them with the copy.
After all, a great copy doesn’t mean anything if nobody stops to read it.
Tip #3 – Provide Fresh Content (That Your Competitors Aren’t Providing)
Your content is so important when it comes to making a first impression. But if you’re just reposting what your competition talks about, nobody will care.
At best, they’ll bypass your content because they’ve read it before. And at worst, they’ll think you’re just copying your competition.
The goal with your content is to speak to your audience in ways that your competitors don’t.
Talking about the features of your accounting service will put people to sleep. What you must do instead is to speak to the problems that your prospects have. Talk about the transformation that your firm can create.
Post consistently and keep it fresh so that your prospects see something that they can’t find anywhere else.
Tip #4 – Leverage Social Proof in Your Content
Let’s imagine that you’re shopping for a service and you have two providers’ websites open.
The first provider’s content is all about them telling you how great they are. They go into the benefits and features of their service… and keep telling you that they’re awesome.
The second provider barely says anything about themselves. Instead, they share stories from their clients about the transformation the client underwent. These clients came to them with similar problems to yours and they found their solutions.
Now, which of those pieces of content grabs your attention the most? Which one of them do you trust more?
It’s the second provider, right?
And the reason for this is that they’ve leveraged social proof in their content. Instead of telling you how amazing they are, they’re showing you it to you through case studies and client stories.
That’s what you need to do to create a great first impression.
Instead of talking about yourself, leverage your social proof. Use it to show anybody who finds you that you create transformation.
Tip #5 – Create Content in a Variety of Formats
You post to your blog every single day. And without wanting to sound too confident, you know that your content offers value.
And yet, you’re still not getting as many leads as you think you should.
There’s a reason for that…
Not everybody wants to spend time reading a written article!
In fact, a HubSpot study looked deeper into this. They found that a staggering 72% of people prefer watching video content over reading text content.
That means your articles may only reach about 30% of your audience.
The other 70% or so aren’t even getting a first impression of you because you’re not talking to them in their language.
Create content in a variety of formats to reach as much of your audience as possible. Don’t assume that your audience only wants to see a single type of content.
Tip #6 – Be Authentic
Richard Branson once said:
“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.”
That last part about trust is especially important.
If you spend all of your time trying to become some nebulous idea of what a good accounting firm is, you’ll lose all sense of authenticity.
Your prospects know that nobody’s perfect. They know that your firm can’t be all things to all people. And if they see you trying to be something that isn’t even possible to achieve, they’ll sense it.
That lack of authenticity destroys the first impression you make. Straightaway, that prospect now distrusts you and any other messages that you send.
Understand that not every prospect will align with you and what you do.
And that’s okay!
Be true to yourself and turn your firm into a reflection of that truth. This authenticity will help you to build trust with the prospects who will become your best clients. At the very least, it will show prospects that you’re not trying to be something that you’re not.
First Impressions Count…
…So why aren’t you focusing on how you make yours?
By following the tips we’ve shared in this article, you stand a better chance of making a powerful first impression. That initial insight into your accounting practice will influence every decision that a prospect makes about you.
Make sure you’re presenting the best version of yourself wherever you share your message.
A bad first impression doesn’t always result in a lost prospect. But a good first impression makes it so much easier for you to turn that prospect into a client.
…And faster, too.
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